Last night, May 8th, around 10:35pm my Papaw, Woodrow Emerson Marshall, passed away. It had been touch and go for years, but things finally caught up with him, and now he's gone off to a better place.
Papaw survived brain cancer, several brain surgeries, castration and many other ailments living far beyond anyone's expectations. he was a fighter to the very end, but eventually a combination of old age, pneumonia and dementia took it's toll on the World War II veteran.
I didn't always get along with my Papaw. When I was a child he was a mean drunk, and he took liberties he shouldn't have (not sexual, but abusive). He was crude, hateful and bitter, and he was from a time that no longer exists. He never was able to leave the past behind and could never bring himself to moving into the world as it is today.
However, I did love him and I will miss him. When his wife, my Nana, died in 1993, Papaw changed somewhat. Even though he took her for granted for many years he was obviously completely lost without her. He began relying more heavily on his children and grandchildren and began to remorse things he had done. In recent years he had apologized and repented for his mistakes and had made peace with most of his family.
I will never forget one night several years ago I drove past his house on my way home and felt the urgency to pray for him. I prayed all the way home and once I got home. The next day my mom went to visit him and he told her that he couldn't sleep all night because I was beside his bed talking to him until morning. I had a feeling he would have died that night, before he had made his peace with God and everyone, and if nothing else does, this certainly confirms for me both God's existence and his hand on my family's lives.
I have not seen my Papaw for a couple of years, and now I never will get to. I was planning on visiting him today as yesterday I had dental work done and was in no shape to go anywhere. I deeply regret not being able to say goodbye, but more than that I've regretted not being able to feel sad about it. As a matter of fact, the first time I shed a tear about his passing was as I was typing this post just seconds ago, recounting the story of the heavenly visitation in my Papaw's home.
No matter what's in the past, I love you, Papaw, and I will miss you. I remember fondly your magical, beautiful voice that rivaled Bing Crosby's as you would sing Christmas carols while playing the organ. I will remember your artistic skills in the bird you drew me when I was a kid and an aspiring artist myself. I'll never forget that sneaky smile that spread across your face when you played a joke or were giving someone a hard time.
I hope you are finally able to find peace and comfort, and I hope someway, somehow you are reunited with the love of your life, Janie Irene Marshall, my Nana. I pray that God has watch over your soul, and that he keeps you for all eternity. And I pray for my family, that they will be able to move on and have peace knowing that you are no longer suffering as you have been for so long.
I love you, Papaw, God Bless.
Brant W. Fowler